Contract winning tips through the eyes of the buyer

27 Oct 2017


By Malcolm Gallagher, BizVision Ltd

On behalf of St Helens Chamber I coach businesses to bid for, and win, contracts that are in the procurement process. I also help organisations put together contracts and help them judge who wins.

Being on both sides of the fence not only gives me a special insight but also lets me see some of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when tendering. In this article, I am going to concentrate on silly mistakes than can be avoided and cost you the contract.

Read the Documentation

First, read all the documentation carefully and make sure you understand it. You’ll have heard this many times but it really is essential. Today’s public procurement documentation is designed to make things easier when tendering but there’s an enormous number of small businesses who fail because they haven’t fully read everything.

You should read the scoring criteria and use it. For example, it may say 60% price and 40% quality and then give you a breakdown of how the quality scores will be awarded.

Winners know that points make prizes and go all out to maximise the number of points they are awarded. They do this by understanding what is being asked for and making every effort to show how they will meet the requirements of the contract.

Too many businesses seem to ignore the criteria which ends in either a poor score or sometimes complete disqualification if their score is unacceptable. This is a waste of time and effort for the bidding company.

Silly Mistakes

• When asked to show their methodology of how they will deliver the contract, companies often send in a marketing brochure which gives them an “unacceptable” score.

• Companies who have obviously been bidding for many contracts have cut and pasted the wrong narrative which results in another unacceptable score.

• Companies also score poorly for submitting a complicated pricing plan which is as clear as mud to the reader.

• Companies who do not complete the provided tender documentation and invent their own! Yes, you have guessed it – disqualification!

It is not just the small businesses who make these silly mistakes. Recently, judging a £500 million internet contract with 6 companies tendering, 2 were immediately disqualified for silly mistakes and another 2 scored poorly on the quality questions.

The good news is that with so many businesses continuing to make these silly mistakes, there is opportunity for you to be the winner.

St Helens Chamber provide free advice for businesses looking to enhance their bid winning ability. To find out more call us on 01744 742042 or email